SWOT Analysis for Homeschools

In January, I like to look back at the previous year and consider what worked, what didn’t, and what I can do to make the new year better. One analytical strategy is I’ve borrowed from the business world is SWOT Analysis. It’s actually a very useful tool for homeschoolers, so here’s a brief overview. SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

To apply it to your homeschool, write statements or ask yourself questions in each area. For example:

Strengths

  1. I am very strong in teaching literature, writing, history, and art.
  2. We have a home library of over 5,000 volumes, and easy access to three public libraries.
  3. We live in a place where the boys can easily study and learn about nature (botany, geology, etc.).
  4. Donald is able to provide hands-on instruction in practical and technical areas.
  5. The boys are able to play sports in a positive environment through our fellowship.
  6. The older boys are now driving and can take themselves to music and college.

Weaknesses

  1. I do not have an adequate background for teaching higher-level math and lab sciences.
  2. Our budget is small, so I have to spend a lot of time locating free or low-cost resources.
  3. Although there are music, college, and co-op opportunities available, my caregiving responsibilities make it difficult to take advantage of these for the younger boys.
  4. [You could list your student’s academic weaknesses in this section as well.]

Opportunities

  1. There is a type of homeschool curriculum to suit every learning style and budget (though not necessarily at the same time).
  2. We have an excellent community chorale that welcomes homeschooled teens.
  3. We have contacts who are strong in physics and math, and are willing to provide tutorial assistance in exchange for writing evaluation.
  4. We have a nearby community college where the boys can take classes in math, science, and areas of interest.
  5. There are several good co-ops in the area that offer classes the boys would enjoy.

Threats

  1. First-time jobs for the older boys may divert their focus from finishing school.
  2. Academic motivation can be difficult to maintain through the ups and downs of adolescence.
  3. My caregiving responsibilities sometimes interrupt the flow of school and we all lose focus and don’t finish.
  4. We don’t have an income or budget that will cover the cost of college for all four boys (or for those who choose to go).

Once you have identified your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, you can decide how to use the Strengths and Opportunities to balance the Weaknesses and Threats. For example, if your teen’s loss of motivation, your low budget for college, or your weakness in teaching math is a threat, you may decide that the opportunity to take classes at the community college would be a good way to counteract that threat (that’s what we did, and it really worked– see Get a Jump Start on College if you’re not familiar with this idea). I hope you’ll find the SWOT Analysis helpful as you plan for 2009. If you find it particularly interesting, here’s an article and template that provides a lot more detail. I’ve always found that purposeful planning makes the school year run much more smoothly for us, and I hope it will do the same for you.

Announcements

January 24, 2009: I’ll be speaking at Heart for Home School’s 6th annual Winter Conference in Wake Forest, NC. The theme is “Home School Harvest: Sowing and Reaping.” I’d love to meet you there! Excellence in Literature: American and British literature are being printed right now (I can’t wait to see them!) so they’ll be available this month! If you’ve been waiting for a college-prep literature program in which your student can read full-length classic literature, you don’t need to wait any longer. These self-directed chronological surveys use context resources and carefully crafted essay prompts to help your student understand and analyze some of the greatest books of all time. Nauticus Homeschool Day On Wednesday, January 21, 2009, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you and your homeschooled students can visit Nauticus Museum on the Norfolk, VA waterfront and participate in a special HEAV co-sponsored event with workshops and exhibits, all at a substantial discount. Visit www.nauticus.org/homeschool.html to register, or call 757-664-1021 for more information. (With thanks to the HEAV Update which alerted me to this interesting opportunity.)

This post has been included in the 3rd Anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling!
Carnival of Homeschooling

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